Territorial evolution of Albemarle County

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The borders of modern Albemarle County as well as the City of Charlottesville have been significantly altered numerous times throughout the existence of both entities before assuming their present forms. For Albemarle County, this evolution resulted from territorial restructurings enacted by the colonial government of Virginia, as new counties were frequently created from existing ones as soon as they were considered viable from demographic and economic standpoints.


The eight original shires of the Virginia Colony. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.
Historical marker detailing much of the early history of Albemarle County. Reproduced from the Historical Marker Database.

Henrico Shire

  • In 1634, by the order of King Charles I of England, the House of Burgesses organized the land of the Virginia Colony into eight shires, with these shires to be governed similarly to their equivalent territorial units in England. A small part of the easternmost portion of modern Albemarle County fell within the boundaries of the Henrico Shire, which took its name from the coastal settlement of Henricus (itself having originally been named after Prince Henry Frederick of Wales, the son of King James I of England). The term "shire" in this system was officially changed to "county" only a few years later.

Goochland County and Louisa County

  • In 1728, Goochland County (named after Sir William Gooch, the Royal Lieutenant Governor of Virginia at the time) was founded as the first county to be formed from the Henrico Shire. In its original form, it contained the entireties of the modern counties of Goochland, Powhatan, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Buckingham, Nelson, and Amherst, as well as the northern sections of Appomattox, Campbell, and Bedford and the southern two-thirds of Albemarle.
  • In 1742, the northern third of modern Albemarle County, which had fallen within the boundaries of Hanover County (itself having descended from the Charles River Shire through the development of the counties of York and New Kent in the seventeenth century), became part of the newly-created Louisa County. The latter was named after Princess Louise, the daughter of King George II of Great Britain and Ireland.

Creation of Albemarle County

  • In 1744, the Virginia General Assembly created Albemarle County (named after Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, the titular Governor of Virginia at that time) from the western portion of Goochland County. In its original form, it contained the entireties of the modern counties of Buckingham, Amherst, Nelson, and Fluvanna, as well as large sections of Appomattox and Campbell and the southern two-thirds of Albemarle.

Partitions of Albemarle County

  • In 1761, the counties of Buckingham and Amherst were partitioned from Albemarle County, which in turn gained the northern third of its modern area as a land transfer from Louisa County. As a result, the county seat of Albemarle was moved from the formerly-central Scottsville to a piece of newly-central land, christened as Charlottesville after Queen Charlotte of Great Britain and Ireland and receiving its own town charter in 1762.
  • In 1777, the county of Fluvanna was split off from Albemarle County, thus leading to the finalization of the external borders of the latter.[1]

Growth of Charlottesville

  • In 1818, the town of Charlottesville incorporated nearby land that included the courthouse area, with this annexation coming to be known as "Anderson's Addition." Additional small parcels of land would gradually be annexed from Albemarle County on an as-needed basis throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • In 1888, Charlottesville was officially incorporated as a city within the Commonwealth of Virginia, eventually being raised to a city of second and first class status in 1902 and 1916 respectively.[2]

Map gallery

A hand-drawn map demonstrating Charlottesville's territorial expansion over time. Reproduced from the Neighborhood Development Services.

External links

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries in Virginia


  1. Web. History and Facts of Virginia Counties, My Counties
  2. Web. Albemarle County in Virginia, C.J. Carrier Company, 1901